01/28/2013 01:45 EST | Updated 03/30/2013 05:12 EDT

BC Organ Transplants Up In 2012

B.C. Transplant
VANCOUVER - Organ transplants in British Columbia were up to a record-breaking level in 2012 and wait times for some procedures were down as BC Transplant marked its busiest year.

Agency spokeswoman Peggy John said 306 organs were transplanted last year, compared to 295 transplants in 2010.

She said the number of lung transplants increased to 25 from the previous record of 16 in 2010, and that the most common operation was a kidney transplant, with 194 performed last year.

Executive director Dr. Greg Grant said new transplant co-ordinators to support the donation process at Vancouver General Hospital and St. Paul's Hospital along with closer collaboration with the facilities are making a difference.

The co-ordinators work with staff to create awareness of organ donation and deal with families whose loved ones may have wished to donate an organ.

"For families, knowing that one deceased donor can save up to eight people is significant," John said.

Liver and lung transplants are done at Vancouver General Hospital, while St. Paul's Hospital performs heart and kidney transplants. B.C. Children's Hospital also does kidney transplants.

John said increased awareness about organ donation is also helping people who need a transplant to reach out to their network and speak openly about the process.

The growing pool of donors is being credited for the increase in life-saving operations, and John said the number of donors-per-million in B.C. now exceeds the national average.

Nationally, an there are an average of 16.3 living donors per million, compared to 19.6 in B.C., and Canada averages 13.6 deceased donors while the number is 15.2 per million in the western province.

The median waiting time for patients needing a lung transplant plunged to 3.5 months last year, from nearly 11 months in 2011, BC Transplant said.

Patients waited an average of just under four years for a new kidney in 2012, compared to five years and two months in 2011.